"Why? is filled with relatable rants about a subject Martha Humler knows well: customer service. My wish is one day stories like these will be few and far between-but in the meantime, I hope Martha's book gives you a giggle."
-Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager®, Legendary Service, and Raving Fans
"Martha's stories are a lighthouse of actionable insights for service professionals that are swimming in a sea of mediocrity."
-Dr. John Timmerman, Chief Scientist, Customer Experience & Innovation, Gallup
We're all consumers, which means we've all been frustrated by poor customer service.
Martha Humler, who spent her career in retail and advertising and is married to one of the kings of customer service-an executive with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.-shares her frustrations about mediocre customer service in a series of vignettes.
Along the way, she delivers common-sense tips and strategies that managers, leaders, and companies can use to cultivate a culture that revolves around customer service. In fact, this is one book business owners should provide to all staff. Topics include:
- self-checkouts and why they might not be the best way to slash costs;
- ways to keep delivering service after the sale;
- providing small amenities-like bread at restaurants-that build goodwill; and
- ways consumers can speak up to demand better customer service.
If you've ever left a drive-through window only to discover missing items, received items from an online purchase that look nothing like what you ordered or are tired of long-winded answering messages with dozens of prompts, then you'll laugh out loud at these relatable rants.
Why? Because Vacations Are Supposed to Be Joyful.
Oh, the long planned out and much anticipated vacation. Don’t you expect to have a wonderful happy time where everywhere you go and everything you do will be filled with joy?
How much joy do you feel when your vacation starts with a flight somewhere?
Need I say more?
I’ve concluded that the airlines have different training programs for employees working in first/business versus the coach cabin. I have traveled in both.
I totally feel the love in the front of the plane in first/business. Everyone is smiling, and it is such a serene ambiance. You barely have your coat off, and someone is there to offer you a drink and a hot towel.
In economy, I sense I am one of the cattle herd. The crew is moaning while they push the heavy carts up through the aisle, all the while barking, “Arms and feet in.”
Ice chips are flying as they rush through the service. Drink flip tops are opening at such a rapid rate that it literally sprays the aisle seat passengers.
What is their hurry? The pilot said the flight would last five hours and eighteen minutes.
I don’t understand this disparity between cabins. We are only a curtain away from the Zen-like atmosphere.
I have one more thought: could anyone possibly be assigned to tidy up the restrooms just once during longer flights? The condition of them is a telling sign of whether or not you care about us passengers.
I roll my eyes when an airline brags about its safety record.
What do they think we expect, broken-down, ill-equipped machines?
Do hotels boast, “We have beds”?
Do moving van companies shout from the rooftops, “We have big trucks”?
You get my drift. No company can rest its laurels on the obvious. That is why the level of service they offer will be what sets them apart.
This is another airline mystery to me. How could a family of four check in their bags together but one is missing by the time you arrive at your destination?
Did that suitcase suddenly develop a fear of flying and hurl itself off the conveyor belt?
Could the airline snake a chain through all four bag handles so they stay together in flight? At least that way either we all get to jump into our bathing suits when we arrive or we suffer it out together, sweating in our travel clothes.
Finally why do pilots bother with their cute opening welcome comments, for example, our flight time and weather conditions at our destination? Sometimes they include what they think is a funny joke about some sports game that day and so forth. Evidently their mothers never taught them to speak up and annunciate. Can you hear a word of what they are saying? Pilots aren’t the only ones making out with their microphones. I missed my train stop once thanks to the conductor’s garbled instructions.
Do you get on before you get on?
–George Carlin, American comedian
After the family recovers from the trip, then comes the rental car retrieval, where you’ll hear:
“I’m sorry, but your flight was early, and the car scheduled for you won’t be ready for at least another hour.”
“I’m sorry, but you are late so we gave your requested car to someone else. I can offer you a slightly similar vehicle.”
“I’m sorry, but your reservation was registered at our sister location six miles away. Do you need a ride there?”
To quote one of my favorite movies,
“Love (of the customer in this case) means never having to say you’re sorry.”
And I have one more thing about getting the rental, connecting back to the dishwasher in restaurants. No one is more important in the rental car operation than the people cleaning the cars for the next pickup. Someone please teach them to vacuum thoroughly, clean out the pockets and sleeves, and let the next pickup not have to wonder about what actually went on in the car before they got it. What company in their right mind thinks I might be hungry after my long flight and will enjoy snacking on the remaining Doritos in the opened bag in the door pocket? Seriously.
Ahh, you arrive at your escape abode, where you instantly start to think,
Wait. This doesn’t look like the slideshow on their website.
This isn’t even the same building color.
How many years ago did they take those pictures of this bathroom?
Where did they get those shots of the ocean view? They must have snuck between those two cottages blocking our view to photograph from there.
Kids, can you identify what that possibly might be in the refrigerator?
I’ll be back in a few hours. I have to find a Laundromat to wash the sheets and towels before we use them.
And don’t sit on that couch until I can cover it with one of the clean sheets when I get back.
Oh, the joy! Let the vacation begin.
Martha Humler graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in human development and business and spent twenty-five years working in retail and advertising, holding various VP human resource roles along the way. She is forever on a quest to find friendly and efficient service and hopes you will join her service revolution to demand better. She and her husband, Herve, a service-centric leader himself, have two children and live in Potomac, Maryland.